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Chemistry honed in a national lab powers largest flow battery in North America.

Trump’s FCC advisor wants to eliminate most of the FCC

EnlargeStephen D. Melkisethian reader comments 64 Share this story A Donald Trump advisor who will help set a new direction for the Federal Communications Commission recently argued that most of the FCC should be eliminated. The commission's role as an independent agency remains important in one area: licensing radio spectrum, Trump advisor Mark Jamison argued in a blog post last month titled, "Do we need the FCC?" That's because political interference in spectrum licenses would dampen investment "and could lead to rampant corruption in the form of valuable spectrum space being effectively handed out to political cronies," he wrote. But the other functions of the FCC could be eliminated entirely or handed off to other agencies, Jamison wrote: Any legitimate universal service concerns could be handled by others: States can subsidize network access as they see fit, the Department of Health and Human Services can incorporate telecommunications and Internet into its assistance to low-income households, and the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and states can handle consumer protection and ex post regulation.

A much smaller independent agency could be created to license radio spectrum, where a spectrum license would be a property right for use and not about content. (The license holder could lease its space to others or use it itself for content or other services.) Thus, at the end of the day, we don’t need the FCC, but we still need an independent agency. Jamison is one of two officials appointed by President-elect Trump to advise him on the FCC during the presidential transition. Jamison is a visiting fellow at the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a professor and director of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida. Jamison also used to manage regulatory policy at Sprint. Jamison is an opponent of net neutrality rules, we noted in a story yesterday. His arguments for dramatically scaling back the FCC were pointed out in a Washington Post article. Jamison told the Post that current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler "has allowed politics to 'infiltrate the FCC a lot more than is necessary.'" Most of the original reasons for having an FCC have gone away because "Telecommunications network providers and ISPs are rarely, if ever, monopolies," and in cases where they are monopolies, they can be regulated by the FTC and states, Jamison wrote in his blog post on whether the FCC is still necessary. The FCC's oversight of broadcasters isn't needed anymore because "content on the Web competes well with content provided by broadcasters," he wrote.

Besides inertia and the difficulty of dissolving a federal agency, the FCC still exists because it "is valuable to businesses and interest groups that are benefitting from its activities: The recent work on net neutrality, business data services, and set-top boxes are bestowing benefits to some segments of the industry at the expense of other segments, and at the expense of customers, who ultimately bear the brunt of regulatory rent-seeking," he wrote. In other recent blog posts, Jamison criticized Wheeler's leadership and argued that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's push to provide universal broadband with subsidies "would be a drag on the economy." In 2013, Jamison argued that seeking consumer input in the regulatory process can be harmful, claiming that "Public discussion inhibits open dialogue." The FCC is required to seek public comment before issuing new regulations; net neutrality rules passed under Wheeler were influenced by 4 million public comments, most of them supporting stronger regulation of ISPs. Wheeler obviously would disagree with Jamison's stance that the FCC should be dramatically scaled back. With the Democratic chairman on his way out, Wheeler urged Trump to protect consumers and "the broader common good" instead of doing the bidding of "incumbents preferring the status quo." Wheeler has also justified new regulations by saying there isn't enough competition in the US Internet market, with most customers having at best one choice for a provider offering modern broadband speeds.

Trump hires two net neutrality opponents to oversee FCC transition

Enlarge / President-elect Donald Trump.Getty Images | Drew Angerer reader comments 115 Share this story President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two outspoken opponents of net neutrality rules to oversee the Federal Communications Commission's transition from Democratic to Republican control. The appointees announced yesterday are Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison. Eisenach is director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), while Jamison is a visiting fellow at the same institution.

Eisenach previously worked on behalf of Verizon and other telecoms as a consultant, and Jamison used to manage regulatory policy at Sprint. Eisenach and Jamison aren't necessarily candidates for FCC chairman, but they will help set the commission's direction and could help Trump choose FCC leadership.

Their views on net neutrality match those of Trump, who opposed the net neutrality rules passed under current Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Those rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. Jamison recently described net neutrality rules as "economics-free regulations for the Internet," saying that such rules should only be adopted "if there is actual evidence of monopoly." "Net neutrality in the US is backfiring," Jamison wrote. "There are two basic reasons for the failure. One is that net neutrality policy has lost its focus and is now a growing miscellany of ex ante regulations that frequently work against the entrepreneurs and consumers the rules are intended to help.

The second reason is that the net neutrality mindset is locked into a fading paradigm in which networks are distinct from computing and content.

Facebook, Netflix, and Google are investing in customized networks and, in doing so, demonstrating that next-generation breakthroughs will leap beyond the old mindset." Jamison also opposed Wheeler's proposal to free consumers from renting set-top boxes by requiring cable companies to make video applications for third-party devices. Eisenach testified against net neutrality rules in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2014, before the FCC passed its regulations. "Net neutrality regulation cannot be justified on grounds of enhancing consumer welfare or protecting the public interest," Eisenach said. "Rather, it is best understood as an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another—a classic example of what economists term 'rent seeking.'" Concerns about ISPs using market power to harm competitors or consumers are best addressed through existing antitrust and consumer protection laws, he argued. Eisenach made FCC submissions on behalf of Verizon as recently as 2013 but said this month that he's no longer working for Verizon. "[T]he facts are: [I'm] Not a lobbyist; not consulting for Verizon; no consulting business before the FCC at all," Eisenach tweeted. In addition to their AEI roles, Eisenach is a managing director at NERA Economic Consulting while Jamison is a professor and director of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida. While Jamison wasn't previously linked to the Trump transition, Eisenach's appointment is no surprise, as he was advising Trump during the presidential election. Trump vowed during his campaign to oppose AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, the owner of CNN and HBO, but his appointments of Eisenach and Jamison may be good news for AT&T.

A Recode article notes that both Eisenach and Jamison supported AT&T's attempted purchase of T-Mobile USA in 2011, even though the FCC's Democratic leadership blocked the deal.

Industry Group Issues Security Framework for Industrial IoT

The Industrial Internet Consortium's blueprint addresses security from multiple angles and touches on safety, reliability and privacy. The Industrial Internet Consortium has developed a framework that aims to address the thorny and complex issue of security and the internet of things.The industry consortium this week published the Industrial Internet Security Framework, a dense blueprint designed to address the broad array of security issues concerning the industrial internet of things (IIoT), the increasingly connected and interconnected systems that run the world's industrial operations.The framework focuses on five characteristics—safety, reliability, resilience, security and privacy—that consortium officials said define industrial systems, and also lays out various risk, assessment, threat and performance indicators that managers can use to protect their companies."Industrial networks, which were originally designed to be isolated, are now exposed to continuous attacks of ever-increasing sophistication," Evan Birkhead, vice president of marketing at Bayshore Networks, wrote in a post on the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) blog. "Additionally, with the proliferation of connected devices worldwide, there is a need to protect against not only malicious intent but also errors and mischance. The IIC believes that these factors combine to create a perfect storm that represents a major threat to world safety and security." The issue of security and the IoT is a difficult one.

The number of connected devices, systems and sensors worldwide is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years, with Cisco Systems and Intel both predicting as many as 50 billion or more such devices by 2020.

The sheer number of these things is daunting: with such a huge attack surface, how do you secure everything? In addition, there are so many vendors making so many different devices and systems, and how do you secure everything from baby clothes with sensors to major industrial systems to public utility facilities like dams? Security can be a significant barrier to organizations adopting IoT technologies, according to Birkhead. He cited a June study that showed that data security and privacy concerns are key challenges organizations face when considering the IoT.
In addition, 58 percent of business executives surveyed said the IIoT makes their companies more open to cyber-attacks."The continuing explosion of connected devices provides opportunities for unprecedented growth and performance gains in industrial systems," he wrote. "Unfortunately, this growth also exposes extraordinary increases in risks to plant personnel, to the businesses that operate industrial processes, as well as to society and the environment at large.
It's challenging, especially considering the exponential increase in the amount of exposed data."The IIC's new security framework is designed to help address security from multiple perspectives, including business, functional and implementation, according to officials with the consortium, which now has more than 240 members.

Business managers can use the security framework to make more informed decisions based on risk assessments, while it also separates the evaluation of security into various "building blocks," such as endpoint, communications, monitoring and configuration.

Each offers best practices for implementation.The framework also takes a look at security from three roles in the industrial world—component builders who create the hardware and software, system builders who use the hardware and software to create solutions, and operational users of the solutions and systems.
Industrial users need to address the level of trustworthiness of the complete system, officials said.In addition, IIoT security involves everything from industrial processes and applications to safety and reliability needs, and can't be dealt with in isolation, consortium officials said.

They used the example of adding predictive maintenance capabilities to high-value electric power generation equipment.

Doing so opens the systems up to threats, but while adding security may be a challenge, not doing so could lead to the systems being attacked."Today, many industrial systems simply do not have adequate security in place," consortium Executive Director Richard Soley said in a statement. "The level of security found in the consumer Internet just won't do for the industrial internet.
In order to add security to an industrial system, you must make sure it won't interfere with safety and reliability requirements."The framework "describes the consequences of merging different security fields, provides guidance on how to select and achieve security objectives, and describes how to leverage technologies to overcome cyber-sabotage and cyber-espionage," Birkhead wrote.The security framework will be presented at the Industrial Internet Security Forum Oct. 6 in Sunnyvale, Calif.